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Devil Lover

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«Devil Lover» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…A marriage for revenge…Powerful Greek magnate Andreas Vatis has every reason to hate Regan. Not only is his pride severely wounded, but because of her father’s actions, he lost something much more valuable. Before he passed away, Regan’s father seduced Andreas’s wife and ran off with her—and Andreas needs to continue the Vatis empire…Now Andreas is determined to take his revenge from Regan—with the ruthless demand that she replace what her father deprived him of—a wife and an heir!
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Devil Lover Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

ONCE again Regan checked the address written on the piece of paper in her hand, sure that the building in front of her couldn't possibly be the place. The girl at the agency must have made a mistake, this quiet building set in the exclusive part of London couldn't possibly be the right place for her interview to be taking place. And yet the address appeared to be right.

There was a man sitting at a desk just inside the thickly carpeted reception area, probably put there to keep out undesirables. The logical thing to do would be to see if she fitted into that category.

The old man listened politely while she made her query. ‘I'm not sure,’ she said nervously, ‘but I think a Mr Western is expecting me for an interview this afternoon. Apartment 4.’

‘And your name?’

‘Miss Thomas,’ she supplied with a smile. At least he hadn't thrown her straight out. ‘Safe Employment sent me.’

He smiled back at her, a man of obvious retirement age who probably found this job suited his advanced years. He wouldn't have too much to do, the building only consisted of four luxury apartments. Regan admired him for continuing to work when he no longer needed to; too many people had no choice but to remain at home with the high amount of unemployed, and usually gave up the will to live not long after. This man, although probably in his early seventies, gave the impression of a zest for life, a youthful twinkle in the faded blue eyes.

‘Mr Western is expecting you, Miss Thomas,’ he put her mind at rest about it being the right location. Thank God it was the right place, it was already five to three and the appointment was for three o'clock! ‘Would you like me to take you up,’ he offered, ‘or can you find your own way?’

‘I'll find my own way,’ she thanked him, thinking of the wear on his legs—as he was probably doing.

She wasn't sure it was worth her attending the interview now that she had seen the wealthy background of her prospective employer; she felt sure he would require the very best qualifications from the person chosen to be the companion of his daughter. She would be in the nature of a governess really, but she didn't think a charge of nearly sixteen years of age would consider a girl of twenty old enough to fit that description. The girl probably considered herself old enough not to need a companion or governess. Not that Regan could blame her, but apparently the father was often away on business and didn't consider his elderly relatives capable of caring for his daughter. The mother was dead.

But now that Regan had seen the quiet opulence that surrounded her charge she didn't think she stood a chance of being employed by the father. She had done a college course in child care but had no actual experience of working with children other than the necessary field work during the college course. Mr Western appeared to be wealthy enough to employ only the best for his daughter, and with no experience to back her up Regan could hardly be called that.

The door to Apartment 4 was opened by a maid in a smart black and white uniform, the simple white-painted door in no way hinting at the elegance and wealth evident in every article in the huge room Regan was ushered into. Her feet sank into the thickly carpeted floor in a particularly attractive honey shade, the deep brown leather suite placed strategically about the room, the sofa large enough to seat at least five people. It was a beautiful room, beautifully furnished, the long coffee table a genuine antique. But it was a room that lacked something, lacked the vital something she believed necessary to make it a home. But probably Mr Western was away so often he didn't have the time to make it a home. Regan's heart went out to the daughter of the house, her emotions already becoming involved.

She sat gingerly on the edge of one of the sumptuous armchairs while the maid disappeared into one of the other rooms, probably an office or study, to tell Mr Western of her arrival.

She looked down nervously at the smart green suit and crisp white blouse she wore, seeing a certain schoolmarmishness about her clothing, but knowing they gave her a coolly assured appearance, for all of her youth. She had no doubt her usual attire would be frowned on, the tight denims and jumpers that emphasised every curve of her body.

‘Miss Thomas?’

She stood up slowly, straightening her skirt as she did so. The male voice was pitched low and attractive, and a hasty glance at the newcomer showed him to be a tall man in his early thirties, short blond hair brushed back off his brow, blue eyes twinkling in friendly examination, the mouth curved into an attractive smile. Regan felt some of the tension leave her as she returned his smile.

She accepted his proffered hand. ‘I'm Regan Thomas, yes,’ she acknowledged huskily.

‘Clive Western,’ he gave her hand a hearty shake. ‘Please, sit down. I've asked Margaret to provide us with some tea. I'm sure you could do with some,’ he smiled understandingly.

‘That will be lovely.’ At least the job didn't appear to have already been taken by what she felt sure must be numerous applicants. Unless the tea was supposed to lessen the disappointment when she was told the post had been filled.

She looked up once again, only to find Clive Western's admiring glance on her. She knew her auburn hair that when loose waved down to her shoulder blades but at the moment styled into a smooth bun at the nape, uptilted blue eyes surrounded by thick dark lashes, tiptilted nose, and wide smiling mouth, made up an attractive if not beautiful young girl when complemented by her slim curvaceous figure, but she wasn't sure she welcomed her possible future employer noticing such things. But maybe he hadn't, maybe she was being over-sensitive about this her first interview. What did it matter if she didn't get the job, just this interview would be some experience to take on to her next one.

‘The girl at the agency tells me this will be your first job.’ Clive Western sat down opposite her, crossing one well-clad foot over the other.

Regan's eyes brightened. So the job hadn't been taken. Maybe she could still get on a short list or something. ‘Yes,’ she answered shyly. ‘I only left college a couple of weeks ago.’

He nodded. ‘So the agency explained. They also said you had no objections to moving out of London.’

‘None at all.’ She was beginning to feel a little more confident. ‘In fact, until a couple of years ago I lived in Norfolk—and that is definitely out of London,’ she added mischievously.

‘Indeed,’ he nodded. ‘But I'm afraid it would be the other way—Cornwall in fact.’

‘It wouldn't matter. The aunt and uncle I lived with moved up to Scotland a few months after I came here. One of my cousins got a job up there and as my uncle was retired the whole family decided to go.’

‘But not you?’

She was aware that she was being led, but she was also aware that this man had a right to know her background. After all, she could be going to become his daughter's constant companion. ‘I'd already been accepted for a college course here.’

‘And you haven't considered joining them now.’ He indicated she should pour the tea the maid had just brought in, which she did, leaving him to add his own sweetening if he wanted it. He didn't.

‘I didn't really see the point,’ she explained, ‘not as my job usually involves living in.’

‘And time off?’

‘Holidays I spend with them, but weekends I usually spend with the friends I've made here.’

‘And will you be leaving anyone special behind?’

‘A boy-friend, you mean?’ She watched him nod. ‘No one who really counts.’ She hoped Donny would forgive her for that. She wasn't seriously interested in him, although he didn't treat their friendship with the same casualness. He was one of the reasons she didn't mind leaving London, mere words didn't seem to be enough to convince him of her disinterest in making things more serious between them.

‘Good, good,’ he nodded again, studying the tip of one highly polished shoe.

His ease didn't fool Regan for one minute; there was an astute brain behind his polite manner, a brain that missed little. ‘And what do you know of Helena?’

‘The little girl?’

Clive Western smiled. ‘I don't somehow think she would like being called that.’

‘I'm sure she wouldn't,’ Regan laughed, her cheeks flushed in her embarrassment. ‘My lecturers wouldn't be very pleased with me if they'd heard that slip-up. I meant to say young lady.’

‘I'm sure you did,’ his mouth quirked with humour. ‘And yes, Helena is the young lady. Although I wouldn't really call her that either,’ he added thoughtfully.

‘I know very little about her, except her age and that her mother is dead.’

‘Gina died just over ten years ago.’

‘I'm sorry,’ Regan said softly.

‘It was rough on Helena,’ he agreed. ‘She was only five when her mother walked out on her.’

‘Walked out …? I'm sorry, I thought you said——’

‘Oh, I did. Please, help yourself,’ he indicated the plate of delicious-looking cream cakes on the trolley. ‘You don't look as if you have to watch what you eat.’

‘No, I don't. But I—I won't, if you don't mind.’ She always ended up with more cream over her than inside her, and she didn't want to make a fool of herself when the interview seemed to be going so well. ‘I've just eaten lunch,’ she excused herself, the silent rumblings of her tummy telling her that it had been over three hours ago. And the cakes did look delicious!

Clive Western shrugged. ‘To get back to Gina.’ He frowned. ‘She'd already gone back to America, alone, before the accident happened.’

‘I see.’

‘The marriage was—well, it wasn't a success. I'm telling you this because you may find Helena won't take kindly to a female being introduced into her world, not a female she has to take notice of anyway. She's been surrounded by just men for so long now—staff, tutors, her father—that I'm afraid she's rather an independent young girl. She's attractive enough, she just needs a push in the right direction to make her into a beautiful young woman.’

‘She resents the idea of a companion,’ Regan said with a sigh. This job was certainly turning out to have a lot of the pitfalls that had been described to her during her recent course.

‘She resents any idea of change,’ Clive Western corrected. ‘But things can't go on as they have been. She's running wild down there in Cornwall. But the business is very time-consuming, requiring a lot of time travelling to our different branches all over the world. The personal appearance has never done any harm, and it certainly keeps the employees on their toes. They never know when the boss is going to walk in.’

‘And—er—what is the business?’ asked Regan.

‘Shipping, hotels, holidays.’

Wow! No wonder he looked as if he were made of money. ‘So Helena spends a lot of her time on her own?’

He nodded. ‘Except for the staff down there.’

‘She's never had a companion before?’

‘Years ago. Then she went to boarding school for a time. A bad bout of ‘flu turning to pneumonia put a stop to that just over a year ago. Since then she's been tutored at home. She's supposed to be delicate,’ he added dryly.

Regan frowned. ‘But she has a tutor living down there with her?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then I really don't see … When would I get to do my job?’ She looked and sounded puzzled.

‘Helena only studies until three in the afternoon, after that her time is her own. Her tutor is a male, so that would be the time you took over.’

‘But I—— What would I do all day until she'd finished her school work?’

‘Walk, sunbathe, anything that you like doing.’

She shook her head. ‘I really don't think you need someone like me. Isn't there a relative or friend who could go and stay with her until she's well enough to return to school, someone who could be a friend to her, share things with her? If I accepted this job I wouldn't be earning my money.’ She knew the salary already, and it was a very good one. All the more reason not to accept it under false pretences.

‘Oh, but you would,’ he assured her. ‘It would merely be a reversal of the day. Up until three o'clock your time would be your own, after that, until Helena goes to bed about ten, you would be with her. Weekends you would be expected to be with her all day.’

‘I see.’ That changed things. The way he put it, it sounded a reasonable arrangement. Just a reversal of the day, as he said.

‘So, would you be willing to take the job?’

‘Yes, I—I think so.’ It all seemed to be happening so fast. ‘But don't you have other applicants to see first?’ What was she trying to do, see herself out of what looked like being a very interesting job!

‘There are no other applicants. The job wasn't advertised, and the agency doesn't have anyone else to send. Now, I've told you all the drawbacks, are you still interested in the job?’

‘Oh yes!’ Her eyes glowed brightly blue.

‘Good,’ he grinned. ‘Now I'll tell you some of the good things about it. The salary you already know, you would have more or less a free hand with Helena. The staff down there would treat you more or less as the mistress of the house, and once you've got over Helena's initial antagonism I think you'll find she can be quite a loyal friend. Now what's your answer?’

‘I think,’ she told him shyly, ‘that I would like the job.’

‘Then that's settled,’ he said with satisfaction, and obvious relief. He held out the plate of sticky confectionery she had earlier refused. ‘Have a cake to celebrate. I'd offer you something stronger, but then I'd have to join you, and as I still have a certain amount of work to do today … Go on, have one,’ he encouraged as she still hesitated. ‘I'm going to have one,’ he added enticingly.

Regan laughingly took a chocolate eclair, her favourite. ‘I bet you and Helena are great friends,’ she smiled. ‘You seem to have a way with females.’

He shook his head. ‘I'm afraid Helena is off me at the moment.’

‘She's at an awkward age. I'm sure she'll soon get over whatever it is you've done to upset her.’

‘Not that little lady. Helena isn't one to forget anything, but then neither is her father.’

Regan finished her cream cake, wiping her chocolate-covered fingers on the napkin. Ordinarily she would have licked them clean, but she couldn't do that in front of this man. It just wasn't fair how he managed to eat his without even seeming to get in the least sticky. And he didn't look in the least like a man who would bear a grudge. But then what did she really know about him? Nothing, except the polite friendly side of his character he had shown during this interview.

‘When could you start work?’ he asked now.

She shrugged. ‘Whenever you want me to. I've been taking a holiday since college finished, but that's over now. I can start at any time.’

‘Let's see, today is Thursday. I have to drive down on Sunday to pick up a few things. Could you be ready to go by then?’

It would take a bit of organising, but she would do it somehow. ‘That would be fine,’ she nodded.

‘Nine o'clock suit you?’

Goodness, on a Sunday too! ‘Any time that suits you,’ she assured him. Her first interview and she had got the job! It was fantastic.

‘Then nine o'clock it is. It's quite a drive, pretty hazardous towards the end. The house is quite remote, very minor roads the last ten miles or so. I usually stay to lunch and leave straight after.’

‘That can't give you much time with Helena.’

‘Enough,’ he grimaced. ‘A little of Helena goes a long way. Sorry,’ he grinned, ‘I mustn't put you off before you start!’

It wasn't putting her off at all. His aversion to spending time with his daughter reminded Regan of her own father's absences during her own childhood, and her sympathies all lay with Helena. Her father had been a busy man too, travelling the world for his work and pleasure, and in the ten years of her life before he was killed she had probably seen him for a year of that time. Aunt Edith and Uncle Fred had brought her up as their own daughter, and although her father had often mocked them for their staidness, they had had no hesitation in adopting her when her father had died.

‘I haven't put you off, have I?’ Clive Western must have noticed the shadows in her eyes.

‘Not at all,’ she answered coolly. ‘I'm looking forward to meeting Helena.’

‘That's fine, then.’ He stood up in conclusion of the interview. ‘I'm sorry to rush you, but I have another appointment at four o'clock.’ He gave her a warm smile.

Regan stood up too, her handbag clutched primly in front of her. She still couldn't believe she had got this job! ‘Are you sure I'll be suitable?’ she asked anxiously. ‘My qualifications——’

‘Already discussed with the agency. I'll let them know you've accepted the job.’

‘I'm sure you're too busy——’

‘They'll want their fee, Miss Thomas,’ he interrupted dryly. ‘Which means I have to contact them anyway.’

‘Oh—oh yes,’ she blushed at her stupidity.

‘Sunday, then?’

‘Yes,’ she confirmed.

She was still smiling when she walked past the man in the reception area, receiving a smile back. She called in and did some shopping before going back to the flat she shared with Lindy. She was in the kitchen when she heard her friend's key in the lock an hour later.

Lindy burst into the room. ‘Did you get it?’ She pulled out the grill plate to reveal the steaks cooking there. ‘You got it,’ she laughed.

‘I did.’ Regan opened the fridge door to reveal a bottle of wine she had also purchased. ‘To celebrate.’

‘Mm!’ Lindy licked her lips. ‘Can we start on that now?’

‘Wait until the steaks are ready.’

Lindy sat down on one of the two bar stools they possessed. ‘What was Mr Western like?’ she asked eagerly.

‘Very good-looking. Very charming too.’

‘Any chance of you and him——’

‘Certainly not,’ Regan instantly denied, although the warmth in Clive Western's eyes had occasionally been a little too warm for comfort. A little encouragement from her, and who knows? Thank heavens he travelled a lot. It wouldn't do to become romantically involved with her employer.

Lindy shrugged. ‘Just curious. What's the little girl like?’

‘She's a young lady,’ Regan corrected firmly. ‘I'm sure you didn't like being called a little girl at sixteen. And I didn't get to meet her, she's at their house in Cornwall. Apparently she lives there most of the time.’

‘Does that mean——’

‘It means,’ Regan checked the steaks once more, turning them over for the last time, ‘I shall be going to Cornwall to live, and that Christopher will be able to move in here on Sunday afternoon.’

Lindy blushed. ‘Don't be like that, Regan! Christopher will be using your bedroom, not sharing mine. We only want to see how we get on living together. It isn't going to be easy to work a marriage around my shift work at the hospital.’

Lindy was training to be a nurse, and her hours were a little strange, including several months of night work each year. She and Christopher McGrath had been dating for over a year now, and while they were just going out together Lindy's work didn't interfere too much, but it could be a different matter when taken in conjunction with the commitment of marriage. And so the young couple had decided to try living together for a while, with separate sleeping arrangements, to see how things worked out between them.

Regan kept an open mind about the idea, not sure she would want to do that herself. But then she had never been put to that sort of test, never caring enough for any of her boy-friends to want any more than a casual friendship with them. But she knew Lindy and Christopher genuinely cared for each other, and perhaps it was better to find any loopholes in the idea of marriage between them before they actually went ahead and did it.

Lindy frowned. ‘Sunday, you said? Is that when you start the job?’

Regan nodded. ‘Mr Western is driving down to see his daughter and offered to take me with him. It will save me having to get a train.’

‘Bit short notice, though, isn't it?’

Regan served their meal, sitting beside her friend at the breakfast bar. The two of them had shared a flat ever since they had met in a youth hostel two years ago, and the arrangement had worked out very well, although after growing up with two male cousins Regan had found it strange to be suddenly living with a girl.

She shrugged now. ‘I've had a couple of weeks break, and it isn't as if I can't start any time. Besides, now I know I have the job I just want to get down to it.’

‘You're taking a risk not actually meeting this girl. She could turn out to be a little horror.’

‘Mr Western more or less told me she is,’ Regan said calmly.

‘Charming!’

‘She just needs attention. She seems to have most things money can buy, but not too much tender loving care.’

‘Which you intend to rectify,’ Lindy teased.

‘I'm going to try. Hey, we forgot the wine!’ Regan looked down ruefully at her already half eaten meal.

‘We'll have it now.’ Lindy got up to uncork it. ‘We have to toast your new job. Here,’ she handed Regan a full glass of the red wine. ‘Although I have to say you're a braver person than I am, I couldn't leave London for goodness knows how long.’

‘You forget, I was brought up in the country. Actually, I think that helped me get the job.’

Lindy touched her glass to Regan's. ‘The new job,’ she toasted.

‘The new job,’ Regan echoed.

‘Does Donny know yet?’

Regan sighed. ‘Not yet. I'm dreading telling him, actually. Although in a way I shall be glad to get away from him. He's got so possessive lately. I'm hoping to get out of this without too much fuss.’

‘Why not just tell him you aren't interested?’

‘I tried that,’ Regan grimaced, carrying her wine through to their sitting room. ‘He just came round the next evening as if I hadn't said anything to him. I didn't have the heart to go through it all again.’

Lindy curled up in a chair. ‘That's probably what he was counting on.’

‘Probably,’ Regan laughingly agreed. ‘But even he wouldn't follow me down to Cornwall.’

‘I wouldn't count on it. He hardly lets you out of his sight.’ The doorbell rang. ‘Now's your chance to find out.’

‘How can you be sure it's him?’ Regan stood up.

‘Simple, Chris isn't coming over until later.’

‘A process of elimination, Watson,’ she laughed.

She let Donny in, still not sure why she could only feel mild attraction towards him. He was good-looking enough, very tall, with the body of one of his own country's Greek gods, his hair deeply black, waving in wild disorder, his eyes a deep brown, surrounded by thick black lashes. Regan knew that for work he wore smartly tailored suits, working for a shipping firm he had to look his best, but out of work he wore skintight denims and tee-shirts. He was a very good-looking individual of twenty-two—and yet he left her cold.

She accepted the kiss he placed on her lips, averting her face as he would have deepened the caress. She wished he would accept her friendship and not keep trying to make it something it could never be.

Lindy had gone to her bedroom by the time they entered the sitting-room, leaving the field clear for Regan to tell Donny of her future change of location, no doubt. As she had already known, he didn't like it, not one little bit.

‘You will hate it there,’ he said angrily. ‘There will be no night life there, no parties, no discos. Just think of the fun we have here.’

‘To tell you the truth, the parties and discos have started to pall a bit. Whatever happened to moonlight walks and days spent by the river?’

His expression showed his disgust. ‘I cannot imagine anything worse!’ he groaned.

‘Not here in London, no. Go for a moonlight walk and you're likely to get mugged, and the pollution of the river is likely to kill you if you get too near. I'm a country girl, Donny, and I'm looking forward to the move.’

‘And what about me?’ he asked moodily. ‘You know what will happen to us if you move away from here.’

‘There is no us, Donny,’ she dismissed softly. ‘And as I told you, I want to go. I lived in London because I had to, now I've finished college I would like to move back out again.’

‘You cannot tell me you will not miss all this,’ he scorned, his accent deepening in his anger. ‘I would go mad if I had to live in some quiet backwater.’

‘That's where we differ. I'm looking forward to it.’

‘You are determined to go?’ he knew that stubborn look of old.

‘Yes.’

‘All right,’ he sighed. ‘But remember this, I tried to stop you. You will remember that?’

Regan laughed. ‘I'll remember. And I'm sure to miss you.’

‘That is what I am hoping.’

‘Oh, I see,’ she nodded. ‘A case of absence making the heart grow fonder.’

‘Oh, Regan,’ his eyes pleaded, ‘I wish you would not go.’ He seemed about to say more and then checked himself. ‘I cannot stop you?’ he said resignedly.

‘No.’

‘Very well. As there are only a couple of days left before you are to leave I intend showing you everything you are going to miss, starting tonight with a party one of the girls is throwing.’

The next two days were a rush. When Regan wasn't out with Donny she was either packing or shopping, a lot of the clothing she had worn at college not being suitable to wear as a companion to an almost sixteen-year-old. Most of her things wouldn't set too good an example of neatness.

And then there was the call to her aunt and uncle, their disappointment immense when they knew she was moving even farther away from them. She was upset about that herself, being very close to them. In fact they had been bringing her up even before her father had died, her mother being Aunt Edith's younger sister. Regan's mother had died when she was seven, although she and her mother had often lived with Aunt Edith and Uncle Fred, since her father was often away.

As soon as her mother had died her aunt and uncle had stepped in to look after her, her father only putting in the occasional appearance. She had loved her father with a love akin to hero-worship, had come to know him as the man who turned up for a day or two bearing gifts and then disappeared again for six months or so. When he had suddenly died, and stopped appearing every now and then to disrupt the even tenor of her young life, she had for a few brief seconds felt a sense of relief. The guilt for that moment had never left her.

Finally Sunday morning came around, bringing bright sunshine with it. Regan donned one of the new sundresses she had acquired, and waited anxiously for Clive Western to arrive. Lindy had only just gone to bed; her night shifts for this year were just starting. Well, at least it would throw her and Christopher, who was moving in later today, in at the deep end. They were to have that test on their relationship straight away. Regan hoped it would work out for them.

Saying goodbye to Donny hadn't been easy, and she hoped he wasn't going to make a nuisance of himself in the near future. Mr Western had seemed nice, but he might not consider Donny a suitable friend for the companion of his daugher.

When the doorbell rang at exactly nine o'clock she knew it was him, and picked up her suitcase before taking one last look around what had been home to her for a long time now.

The drive was long and tiring, although the Mercedes was the ultimate in comfort. The powerful engine ate up the miles, and when the two of them weren't talking there was always the radio to fill in their silences. In actual fact Clive Western seemed to be becoming more and more preoccupied the nearer their destination they got, and with the heat of the day, the relaxing music and the comfort of her surroundings Regan soon fell asleep.

She felt terrible when she woke up; she always did if she fell asleep during the day. She sat up, smoothing back her long hair, wishing now that she had smoothed it back in the style she had had at her interview. She must look a mess.

‘Feeling better?’ Clive Western turned to smile at her.

‘A bit bedraggled,’ she admitted ruefully.

‘I'll be stopping for petrol in a minute, perhaps you would like to freshen up then.’

Ten minutes later she felt grateful for his thoughtfulness, her face newly washed, her make-up renewed and her hair brushed. Ready to face anyone, in fact.

The house certainly was remote, a large grey brick building set high on the cliff top, the only apparent habitation for several miles. There were several outbuildings, a couple of them looking like stables. Regan hoped so, she would love to go riding once again. She hadn't been able to go since her move to London, and it had been a pastime she particularly enjoyed.

Clive Western brought the car to a halt in the driveway at the front of the house, and after getting out Regan went to peer over the edge of the cliff to the sheer drop to the turbulent blue-grey sea below. The water looked icy cold, although in the heat of the day it probably wasn't, crashing against the jagged rocks that were scattered along the shoreline.

‘Brr!’ she shivered, turning away to meet Clive Western's curious stare. ‘It doesn't look very inviting,’ she explained.

‘It's very dangerous,’ he confirmed, taking her suitcase out of the boot of the car. ‘I wouldn't advise that you attempt to swim in it. There's a pool at the back of the house, I should use that.’

‘I think I will, thank you.’ She was perfectly well aware of how treacherous the Cornish coast could be, there were reports of deaths there every year. ‘I saw some stables too—will I be allowed to use one of the horses?’

‘You ride?’ He sounded surprised.

Regan smiled. ‘I'm a country girl, remember?’

‘Of course,’ he smiled back. ‘I can't see why you shouldn't ride one of the horses, they could probably do with the exercise.’

‘Oh, lovely!’ Her eyes glowed deeply blue in her pleasure.

‘Come into the house, Miss Thomas. I'm sure you're as ready for your lunch as I am. Mrs Hall will take you up to your room first,’ he said as the housekeeper came out into the reception area to meet them. ‘I have to go to the office, but no doubt we shall meet again later,’ he told Regan with a regretful smile. ‘Work has to come first, as usual,’ he grimaced.

Mrs Hall was a rotund woman in her fifties, with a friendly welcoming smile on her lips, but her dignity demanding a certain respect. Regan knew that her job as companion could be a friendless one, not fitting in with the household staff and yet not a member of the family either, but Mrs Hall soon showed her there would be no resentment of her in any household she ran.

‘Come along with me, my dear,’ Mrs Hall invited in what must surely be a local accent. ‘Work, work, work,’ she shook her head. ‘These men seem to think of nothing else. Working in the office on a Sunday morning,’ she mumbled. ‘It wouldn't do for me, I'm sure.’

‘I suppose Mr Western is kept pretty busy,’ Regan said noncommittally, mentally thinking that Clive Western's time when he arrived would have been better spent saying hello to his young daughter.

‘He is that,’ the housekeeper chuckled. ‘Kept on his toes, he is. Here we are,’ and she opened a door, ushering Regan inside. She stood with her arms crossed over her bosom, looking with satisfaction about the scrupulously clean room. ‘I hope this is to your liking.’

It was a beautiful room, the decor a range of different shades of mauve, from pale lilac to deep purple. Scatter cushions adorned the huge double bed, making it a comfortable place to rest during the day too. Deep purple carpet, pale lilac bedspread, wallpaper comprising all the mauve shades imaginable—it was a lovely room, decorated with a woman's comfort in mind. There was even a range of perfumes on the dressing-table, also an expensive-looking brush and comb set.

‘Bathroom's through here,’ Mrs Hall opened another door. ‘A private bathroom, of course,’ she added proudly, just as if she felt the house were really her own.

‘It's lovely,’ and so much more than Regan had expected! But then with wealth like Clive Western's she didn't suppose there was a less luxurious room that could be allocated to her.

‘Good,’ the housekeeper beamed her pleasure. ‘Lunch will be in half an hour, but I'm sure you'll see the master before then. In the meantime, I'll get a refreshing pot of tea sent up.’

‘Thank you,’ Regan smiled shyly, feeling completely welcome—by the staff at least. ‘I'd like that.’

She sat down on the bed once she was alone, hardly able to believe her good fortune, looking about her in a dazed fashion. Her room and bathroom were truly beautiful, much too beautiful for a mere companion.

She only hoped Helena Western wouldn't prove too difficult. What little Clive Western had revealed of his daughter made Regan aware that she would have to be firm from the start. Any sign of weakness and she had no doubt her charge would take advantage of it.

Regan slipped off her shoes, taking off the jacket that matched the pretty sundress she was wearing and putting it over a chair before she moved to open the window, breathing deeply of the fresh sea air.

She jumped nervously at the sound of a tray crashing down on to a surface, and turned slowly to face Helena Western. She knew it had to be her, sure that no maid under Mrs Hall's authority would dare to behave in such a manner.

‘I apprehended the maid bringing you this,’ the young girl with flashing green eyes informed her coldly. ‘She shouldn't be waiting on you, you're not wanted here,’ she said insultingly.

Yes, this was definitely Helena Western, although she must take after her dead mother in looks; she had none of her father's fair colouring. Thick dark hair, almost black, cascaded in wild disorder halfway down her back, those flashing green eyes, darkly olive skin, and a body that seemed to be growing too fast for her years, all made up the unruly adolescent Helena Western undoubtedly was. She would be a beautiful girl when she was older and more able to accept her femininity.

‘I suppose you consider yourself above poor Mary,’ she continued resentfully. ‘Well, as far as I'm concerned you rate far below the lowest servant here.’

‘Helena!’ a harsh voice rasped the girl's name in harsh disapproval, a husky male voice, the owner of which Regan couldn't yet see, as he was still out in the corridor. ‘You'll go to your room,’ he ordered. ‘Now!’

‘But Papa,’ Helena protested, ‘I don't want this woman here, you know I don't!’ The defiance seemed to have gone out of her now.

Papa? Regan frowned. That voice, slightly accented, didn't belong to Clive Western. But then when had he ever said Helena was his daughter? Hadn't she just assumed that was the case? She waited apprehensively for her first sight of Helena's father: he didn't sound at all like the pleasant man Clive Western had proved to be on the journey down here.

‘You will go to your room immediately,’ that harsh voice repeated the order. ‘I will not tell you again.’

‘Yes, Papa.’ Helena turned to give Regan one last resentful glare before disappearing out of the room.

Regan's eyes widened as a man stepped into the open doorway, a tall man who seemed to block out most of the daylight in the room. He stepped forward and she was able to distinguish his features properly. What she saw made her face pale and then turn grey, her legs no longer feeling as if they would support her. He was the avenging angel from all of her childhood nightmares, the man she had wished never to meet.

She would know that face anywhere—hadn't it haunted her for years, day and night? ‘Andreas Vatis …’ she said faintly.

He gave a cruel smile. ‘Right first time, Miss—Matthews.’

She sat down before she fell down, looking at Andreas Vatis like a mouse must look at a particularly cruel cat—before it ate it. That cruel hard face, with the pencil-thin scar that ran from the bridge of his hawk-like nose over his right eye and disappeared into the thick hair at his temple, black hair going grey over his ears. Green eyes looked at her contemptuously, with nothing to show that the scar and its internal injuries had rendered this man blind in his right eye, temporarily completely blind but now having regained the sight of his left eye. The firm mouth was bared in a smile of taunting humour, his teeth very white against his naturally dark skin.

Regan had never met this man before, and yet she knew so much about him. A Greek to his fingertips, he had been a rakish hell-raiser when the accident that had blinded him had taken place, an accident on the racing track that her father had also been involved in. It was after this accident that her father had lived openly with this man's estranged wife.

‘My—my name is Thomas now,’ she told him tonelessly. ‘My aunt and uncle adopted me.’

He nodded. ‘To save you the pain of your father's sins,’ he grated. ‘But a simple change of name cannot save you from me.’

If anything she went even greyer; this man's expression frightened her. ‘Save me …?’

‘Yes,’ Andreas Vatis rasped. ‘I am a Greek, Regan Matthews, and a Greek never forgets an insult or wrong done to him. It may take years to attain retribution for that wrong, but you can be sure we will always be avenged on our sworn enemies.’

Regan backed away from the glittering dislike in those green eyes, still finding it difficult to believe he was half blind. He didn't appear to be a man who would have patience with any imperfection, although his harsh good looks would never be forgotten by man or woman. How had her father dared to take this man's wife from him? By seeing him rendered blind first, that was how.

God, it still sickened her after all these years. Her aunt and uncle had tried to keep the truth from her, but they couldn't hide the fact that her father had taken this man's wife from him when he was in no position to stop him. Regan had learnt of her father's behaviour by listening to her aunt and uncle talking when they weren't aware she could hear.

A racing car driver, like Andreas Vatis, her father had seen Andreas Vatis’ wife and wanted her for himself. Of course Gina Vatis must have been a very shallow woman to have turned to the other man when it appeared her husband was going to be blind for life, but as far as Regan was concerned her father had been the biggest offender against the man. And now it appeared that Andreas Vatis wanted revenge in some way.

She gulped. ‘I—I have nothing, no money, nothing,’ she told him desperately, although what this man would want with more money when he must be a millionaire time and time again she had no idea.

The Vatis family, of which Andreas was now the head, had always been in shipping, although Andreas had chosen to enjoy himself racing cars until the accident had made that impossible. In time he had taken over the family business, and according to Clive Western, they had now expanded into hotels and holiday accommodation.

Andreas Vatis threw back his head in a harsh laugh, the column of his thickly corded throat deeply brown, the cream silk shirt and cream trousers he wore emphasising the slenderness of his waist and hips and the breadth of his muscular shoulders. He was a man in the peak of physical condition, much fitter than men half his thirty-five years. ‘I do not want money, Regan,’ he told her with a hard smile. ‘But you are right, I do want something. I want that which is mine by right.’

She frowned. ‘But I don't have anything.’ She shook her head in puzzlement, feeling as if one of her nightmares were becoming a reality.

‘On the contrary,’ he drawled. ‘You have everything that I want,’ he said softly, his gaze running over her appraisingly, almost insolent in its intensity. ‘I want only that which your father took from me.’

She swallowed hard. ‘And that is?’

‘A wife, Regan.’ His hard face was unyielding. ‘I am going to take you for my wife.’

.

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